Are you a human foghorn?
Do you have a Napoleon Complex?
Want to order people twice your size around?
If so coxing could be just the thing for you!!!
People think of us coxes as the small person sitting in the back of the boat whose only job is to shout “ROW, ROW, ROW…” through a microphone at 8 giants with oars who could easily crush us. They could not be more wrong!
Our most important job is to steer the boat. Bearing in mind that you are steering a 60ft long boat powered by 8 super-fit athletes with a rudder the size of a credit card, this does take some skill. We can make the difference between winning and losing a race through the lines we take and how we negotiate bends and obstacles.
We are the brains in the boat, the rowers the muscle. An VIII can be rowed with less than 8 rowers, without a cox it can’t go on the water. In races, together with the coach we decide the tactics and strategy. You see another crew making a move, you have to decide how to respond. We act as the in-boat coach. We see bad technique, we tell the rower how to fix it.
Our sole aim is to make the boat go as fast as possible through what we say and how we steer. We are mini-Mr. Motivators, cheerleaders & drill sergeants. We need to be always in control. When you are racing 5 other crews, trying to keep track of where they are, if they’re making pushes, trying to steer a perfect line, trying to motivate your crew into thinking crossing the finish in second place is worse than dying and keeping yourself in control only then do you learn the real meaning of multi-tasking!
I was asked to cox because I was the smallest and scrawniest person at the introductory meeting. At my 1st water training session, I turned up in shorts and a t-shirt because no one told me that looking like a Michelin Man is a good thing for a cox. I had a 5 minute talk from the captain in which he told me the wrong way of steering & a couple of basic commands and was then thrown out in charge of steering a boat that seemed like it was going to topple every second. It was either sink or swim and after a couple of brushes with the riverbank in which I figured out the proper way to steer I was hooked! The first time we got all 8 rowing together reminded me why I loved it, as did our first racing win.
Coxing brought out a competitive and aggressive side in me I didn’t know I had. I surprised myself when I heard “DESTROY THEM!! CRUSH THEM!!” coming out of my mouth for the first time. The feeling you get when your boat starts flying is amazing and is a real adrenaline rush.
So the question of “Why cox?” should be answered with “Why not cox?”
(Also there are the perks of the job such as the confidence that comes with knowing that you have 8 giants who have your back, no matter what situation you find yourself in!)
No experience is necessary, just enthusiasm and a will to learn.
By Naoise Grisewood (UCD Boat Club cox 2005-2009)